This is the most extreme control strategy that can be applied, in particular where there is no known form of operator protection available e.g. in the case of potential exposure to carcinogenic substances, or where there is an unacceptable level of risk in certain activities.
This implies the substitution, for instance, of a less dangerous substance for a more dangerous one, or of a less dangerous system of work for a more dangerous one.
Change of process
Design or process engineering can usually change a process to afford better operator protection.
This can be achieved through isolation of a particularly hazardous operation, the use of Permit to Work systems, method statements, mechanical or remote control handling systems, machinery guarding, restriction of certain operations to highly trained operators, i.e. competent and/or authorized persons, and in the case of hazardous airborne contaminants, the use of various forms of arrestment equipment.
The limitation of exposure of personnel to specific environmental and chemical risks, e.g. noise, gases, fumes, on a time-related basis, may be appropriate in certain cases.
The operation of mechanical ventilation systems e.g. receptor systems and captor systems, which remove airborne contaminants at the point of generation, or which dilute the concentration of potentially hazardous atmospheres with ample supplies of fresh air (dilution ventilation) is generally required where substances are known to be hazardous to health.
Housekeeping, personal hygiene and welfare amenity provisions
Poor levels of housekeeping are a contributory factor in many accidents. The maintenance of high standards of housekeeping is vital, particularly where flammable wastes may be produced and stored. Staff must be trained in maintaining good standards of personal hygiene, particularly where they may be handling hazardous substances.
The provision of suitable and sufficient sanitary accommodation, washing and showering arrangements, facilities for clothing storage and the taking of meals must be considered.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The provision and use of various items of PPE, e.g. safety boots, eye protectors, gloves, etc. is a commonly used strategy. It has severe limitations in that an operator must wear the PPE correctly all the time that he is exposed to the risk.
However, the provision and use of any item of PPE must be viewed as the last resort, when all other strategies have failed, or an interim measure until some other form of control strategy can be applied. The limitations of PPE should be clearly established and systems for maintenance and cleaning of same established and implemented.
Employers should ensure that PPE is ‘suitable’ in that it is appropriate for the risks and conditions where exposure may occur, takes account of ergonomic requirements and the state of health of the wearer, is capable of fitting the wearer correctly and, is effective in preventing or adequately controlling the risks without increasing the overall risk.
Health surveillance implies monitoring the health of identified persons on a regular basis. It may include the exclusion of certain people from specific processes or practices e.g. women and young persons, medical surveillance of certain personnel, medical examinations, health checks, health supervision, biological monitoring e.g. blood tests, urine tests, and other forms of testing, such as audiometry.
Information, instruction and training
The provision of information to staff and the instruction and training of specific management, safety personnel and operators in the recognition of risk and the assessment of same is crucial to the success of any accident prevention programme. Staff must know why certain management action is taken and orders given, and must be fully aware that their cooperation is needed to make the workplace a safe and healthy one for themselves and others.